To do a fitness competition or not? Like many fitness lovers, I too found myself considering the possibility of competing in one. Fitness competitions, bikini category specifically, have become super popular. With IG fitness models flooding our feeds, or random trainers at the gym asking, “Hey, you compete?” It’s not unusual to ask yourself if it’s something you should try, too.
First off, I know myself. I’m extremely competitive and I know that I work well towards a goal. Especially when that goal has a clear deadline. For the past five years I had Falcons Cheer auditions (my clear deadline) then football season to keep my fitness goals in-check. After retiring my pom poms I was looking for a new goal. So, with a bikini competition date in mind as that new goal, I committed to doing a show.
I was excited about the goal setting, ready to crush my workouts in the gym and pumped about the coach I found to help me reach success. However, I couldn’t help but be skeptical about the nutritional aspect. I was terrified of ruining my metabolism. Before I was a Nutrition Coach I dieted where I cut calories heavily, ate only plain home-cooked meals and dropped unwanted body fat quickly. I looked great! But at the time I didn’t even know what reverse dieting was, let alone how to go about it. I ended up gaining even more weight back in the long run. The under-eating took a massive toll on my metabolism and it ended up taking over six months to get it back to a good place. At 10 weeks out from the show, I encountered a similar dietary situation, so I called it quits.
Due to where I started the prep calorically, I was being asked to cut my calories far below a level I felt comfortable. I realized that what I was being asked to do was something I’d never ask of my clients. I knew that staying committed to what I believe to be healthy was more important than my commitment to a bikini competition. Although fitness competitions aren’t necessarily “healthy” because of the extreme lows in body fat, I do believe there are better ways to go about it than others. Here are a few ways, in my opinion, to increase your chances of competing and protecting your body simultaneously.
Give yourself plenty of time
Possibly the most important thing you could do with any diet is to give yourself time. When prepping for a show allow yourself a controlled bulking phase to put on lean muscle mass. Then give yourself the adequate time to cut body fat.
Start the cut from a relatively high caloric intake
Bikini shows ask for girls to get extremely lean. You’re probably going to have to cut out a ton of calories compared to what your body is used to. Starting at 2,000 – 2,500 calories a day and cutting to 1,200 calories is a big difference than starting at 1,500 calories and cutting to 800 calories a day.
Know that “stage ready” is not an everyday look
Your stage weight and size are extremes. Unless you’re using performance enhancements, it’s extremely uncommon to maintain a look like that year-round. Your body is incredible and will adjust to your new low-calorie intake. For most people, it will then stop losing body fat and start holding onto weight because it’s over you starving it and designed to survive. Some body fat is healthy, normal and good!
The work is not over after the show
Know the importance of reverse dieting. The intense diets and workouts are not maintainable for everyone year-round. Most of us must ease our way back to normality both in terms of workouts and diet. You may want to jump immediately to eating all the delicious food you’ve been deprived of and a mental state where yoga pants = wine night…not gym time. But the average person’s body will respond much better to controlled increases in food and decreases in cardio and/or workouts.
Have a good Why
Is it the challenge to push yourself physically and mentally further than you ever imagined? Do you want to be the next cover girl on fitness magazines? If your reason to do a bikini competition is solely to get lean, there are plenty of other ways you can achieve that goal without going to such extremes. However, if leaning out is a bonus to another reason why, a fitness competition could be an awesome challenge for you.
Who knows, maybe in the future I’ll decide a competition is something in my heart that I want to do. I do know that if I am to compete in the future it has to be done when I can set myself up for success in the best way I know how. For now, I’ve decided to stay committed to the same goal of leaning out and continuing the workouts from the prep even without doing the show. I’ve found my own nutritional coach who helped me set a date to work towards just as a show would do. As it turns out, I didn’t need something so extreme as a bikini competition to achieve a goal, and I’m super okay with my decision of backing out of it. Whatever your goals end up being, know that crushing them while maintaining a balanced, healthy life is possible.